GRACE UNBOUND

comprehensive sexuality education without the shame

Holy Spiritual/Holy Sexual: Talking Sex in Church.

 

When you think about the messages you heard about sex growing up, what were they?  When you tried asking the question about sex were the messages something like: “Sex is a sin unless it is saved for marriage.” “Don’t talk about sex, it is dirty.” “Sex is dirty, save it for the one you love.” If not these messages, maybe you were handed a book in silence or maybe the topic itself was ignored entirely suggesting the subtext, “sex is dirty.” Some of you might have been blessed to have had an enriching conversation about what sex is and how beautiful it can be.  Sex is a tough subject for many and it can often make us put up walls and make them stronger than ever.  Sex is also a nonlinear topic, one with many layers and multi-dimensional.  It is for this reason I believe that the church doesn’t seem to like to broach the subject very often.

I am a sex positive person, meaning I believe that sex is good and people should have sex, within the bounds of a healthy relationship. I define a healthy relationship as one where people share love, mutual respect, safety, trust, open communication, a sense of humor, and honor. I say healthy relationships and not marriage because, to be honest, some people, even though married, shouldn’t be having sex.  Marriage doesn’t guarantee that a sexual relationship will be good.  Some marriages may not have trust - there could be anger and resentment between partners - or some marriages could be abusive.  Remember the multi-layered comment described above? If we don’t have these key elements for a healthy relationship, then I don’t know if we can experience the holy abandon that sex can bring; the holy abandon that invites us into connection with each other and with the Divine.  It is also true that sex can quickly turn ugly when it is used to victimize or is not consensual.  With all of this in mind, I believe the one place where we should be talking about sexuality all the time is the church.  We should be talking about it and celebrating it and putting it in the framework of God’s great creation just as we do the Earth and the sky.  We as a church need to stop being afraid of the topic and we need to stop placing a big shame sticker on one another and start learning about ourselves and each other.

When we think about how some of us learned about sex like in the statements above, how damaging they are to our sense of autonomy.  When we hear, “Don’t talk about sex because it is dirty,” a multitude of questions come to mind:  Is it dirty? What parts? Have we made it dirty? Was the intention of sex dirty? If so, why is that how we procreate? If I like sex does it mean that I am now dirty? Do I need communion to wipe me clean because I like sex?  And what about the next statement?  “Sex is dirty, save it for the one you love.” Why on Earth would you want to save something dirty for the one you love? When I think of the word dirty, I think of muck, mud, and germ filled nastiness.  I do not think of dirt when I think of sex.  And for those who are given a book to read, or not told anything, does that mean sex is not important? Does that mean I am not important? These kinds of messages are already setting us up for failure as we seek to have healthy sex lives and healthy relationships.  It is hard to find the good and the ecstasy when all we feel is shame.

Many of us who are taught to fear sex end up fearing the natural feelings we have every day.  Many of us consequently in relationships or in our sexual lives have a hard time letting go and allowing ourselves to be present in the moment and to embrace the uninhibited pleasure that sex can bring to our lives.  Sex and God are so intimately connected.  They both play off the body.  Where else can one be inside the other? Where else can humanity reach a place of connectedness where one literally becomes a part of another; where we consume the blood of Christ like in communion; where a Christ child is born of the body, God incarnate? We are living inside the other.  God created the world and created all of the creatures to procreate and almost all of them do so by having sex. So then why is sex bad? Why do we choose not to talk about it or to do so with such judgement?  Is it because it is the one thing that can strip us down to our knees in feeling unwanted, unloved, and not enough?  Where we know that the thing we crave more than anything is unity; unity with our souls, the ones we care for, and unity with God.  I know I do.  That is why we exist right? We exist to build connection, to honor, to adore, to worship, and to love.

We bring our brokenness to church every Sunday, though we often try to hide our brokenness behind smiling faces, saying we are fine.  A whole person is a spiritual and sexual creature. My hope for the future is that we can start having authentic and caring ministry around the subject of sex in the church every day.  Where we can talk about it openly and honestly; where we can learn to truly accept and love ourselves the way God does.  The church is where we confess and are forgiven, this is the place where we should learn how to let our walls down.  If we can’t do it in a place where we meet the God who dwells with us and cradles our fears, then how are we to practice healthy living in the world? 

As a church, let’s honor our need for connection and love. Let’s honor and care for the fact that God created us holy spiritual and holy sexual.  Let’s talk about those feelings - whether they are good, bad, ugly, hurtful, or joy-filled and learn to bare our vulnerabilities like we did in the garden.  Let’s truly live with one another in community and acknowledge the whole person and the Christ that lives in each one of us. 

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